Your gums play an essential role in your smile.
When you think about a beautiful, healthy smile, what do you think of? For most of us, the focus of a great smile is our teeth—and they certainly play a vital role in a smile’s appearance and health. Your gums, however, play an often-overlooked role in both your smile’s beauty and health. If your teeth are the focus of your smile, your gums are the frame. They hold your teeth in place and seal your tooth roots off from decay, keeping them stable and healthy. Plus, even though we rarely think about it, the proportion between your teeth and gums shapes the way your smile looks. Caring for your gums is an important part of caring for the health and appearance of your smile—and the health of your entire body!
If you’ve noticed that your gums are beginning to recede and don’t know much about gum recession, it’s normal to have a lot of questions. Gum recession is a serious oral health concern, so informing yourself about it can help you keep your gums healthier in the long run! To help you get started while you wait for your appointment with Dr. Alhadef, here are 5 questions we’re often asked about receding gums.
1. Why are my gums receding?
There are several potential reasons why your gums are receding. Severe gum disease, known as periodontitis, is one of the most common causes. In this condition, bacteria attack your gums, causing them to pull away from your teeth and recede over time. Periodontitis is most often caused by poor oral hygiene, particularly by not flossing every day. Even if you brush your teeth very well every day, you can still get periodontitis if you aren’t flossing daily. That said, certain health conditions can make you predisposed to periodontitis. Tobacco use and overbrushing, which is when you brush your teeth too often or too hard, are other common culprits. If you notice the gums around a single tooth receding, the cause might instead be an injury to your gum tissue. When they don’t heal properly, your gum tissue can start receding instead.
Surprisingly, constantly putting too much force on your teeth from issues like a misaligned bite or habitually clenching or grinding your teeth can also cause gum recession. Since genetics play a role in the alignment of your bite and your susceptibility to gum disease, you can be more genetically predisposed to gum disease. That said, it’s not inevitable! With great oral hygiene, regular dental appointments every six months, and any necessary orthodontic treatments, you can still prevent gum recession.
2. Are receding gums a sign of cancer?
No, gum recession by itself isn’t a sign of cancer. Oral cancer is usually associated with symptoms like white spots or open sores that refuse to heal in your mouth. Still, it’s worth knowing that severe gum disease, a common cause of gum recession, is suspected to increase your likelihood of getting certain cancers over time. This is just one of many reasons why it’s vital to get any signs of gum disease evaluated and treated right away and to stick to a great oral hygiene routine to prevent periodontitis in the future.
3. What can I do about receding gums?
The way you go about addressing your gum recession depends on the root cause. If you’re suffering from periodontitis, the first thing you need to do is seek treatment. Getting your gums healthy will stop them from receding further, which leaves you open to address any lasting damage your gum disease and the resulting gum recession have caused. For similar reasons, dedicating yourself to dropping the habit of using tobacco products can put a stop to gum recession and make your entire mouth healthier.
If your gums are receding due to overbrushing, stopping gum recession is usually a simple matter of learning healthy ways to care for your teeth! You should brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day (being careful not to scrub them too hard), floss once or twice a day, and use mouthwash every day. Learning not to scrub your teeth too hard can be difficult, but products like electric toothbrushes make it much easier! Electric toothbrushes often have pressure sensors in them that sense when you’re scrubbing too hard and stop their motors. This means if you’re trying to apply too much pressure, the toothbrush literally won’t work, which is a very helpful feature if you struggle with this! Once your gums are healthy, you can focus on treatments that will help restore any permanent damage they endured.
4. Will my gums grow back?
After they’ve receded, your gums won’t grow back on their own, but we can take steps to help them along. Lasers are the top result for “how to fix a gummy smile,” but they’re sometimes used to improve minor gum recession as well. They can do this because lasers encourage your gums to grow a bit as they heal. If you’ve suffered from extensive gum recession, though, gum grafts are the only way to restore your gums. This type of gum contouring can restore the appearance of your smile by preventing your teeth from looking too long, but it can also protect your future oral health by covering any exposed parts of your tooth roots.
5. How long does the treatment process take?
The exact length of your treatment process depends upon the root cause of your gum recession, how serious your case is, and what treatments you need. If you have periodontitis, it will likely take at least two or three weeks before your gums are no longer infected, and you will need to visit our office for cleanings about every three months for a while to ensure your gums stay healthy and clean. Overbrushing, on the other hand, is usually remedied very quickly because it’s a simple matter of changing a few of your habits or switching up the tools you use to carry out your routine. Gum grafting generally needs to wait until your gums are completely healthy and have stopped receding, but once you get the procedure, it should only take you one or two weeks for you to heal completely. Everyone is different, though, so it’s hard to pin down an exact timeline without examining you first. If you’d like to learn more about what your treatment process would involve or how long it’s likely to take, Dr. Alhadef can provide you with an estimate after your evaluation.
Learn more about receding gums with the help of the Dallas Cosmetic Dental team.
Healthy gums are essential to maintaining a healthy, beautiful smile, but thankfully they’re generally very easy to care for at home. If you notice them receding, however, there’s plenty you can do to halt their recession and even restore lost gum tissue. In just a few weeks, you can have the confidence of a healthy, beautiful smile again! If you’d like to learn more about gum recession and how we can help you, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. Alhadef at any time.